Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro stepped up his crackdown on his political opponents with the arrest last week of the mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, who stands accused of trumped-up charges of plotting a coup with support from the United States. Ledezma’s is the most recent in a string of arrests of opposition politicians and comes as Maduro faces a severe economic crisis at home.
Since assuming power in 2013, Maduro has struggled escape the shadow of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, and unify his base of support, known as the Chavistas. Last July, with oil prices only just falling, Frida Ghitis pointed to “a fracturing of support among Chavista loyalists” as “the most dangerous of all Maduro’s problems.” As Ghitis warned, “Maduro’s entire structure of support, the Socialist Party, looks like it could come apart. And if Maduro loses his party, he will lose power.”
She went on to add:
The president’s long list of problems is only becoming longer and more complicated. The opposition is angry; the people are dissatisfied; creditors are restless. But the most urgent of all of Maduro’s challenges is keeping his allies from turning into foes.
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